Fighting the tide

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By Ari Rutenberg

The addition of Sarah Palin to the Republican ticket seems like trying to fight the tide with a bucket.  A
straw bucket with a dozen holes.  Compared to Obama's magnificent and transcendent acceptance, her nomination seems like a vain attempt to tack themselves on to the tail end of history with a gun-totting, creationist, secessionist (maybe...and not that I necessarily disagree) valley girl (she says like, like, every 10 words) who chitchats with the almighty.

While she seems like a nice and real person, who has apparently some fondness for Obama, she represents an even farther right vision of the world than McCain.  Her resume, which is not massive, is also not qualitatively good.  She was the mayor of a small town, and has now been the Governor for 18 months. Her Republican colleagues in the Alaskan Legislature do not believe she is qualified to be Governor, much less VP.  They have even opened an investigation into a potential abuse of power involving her sisters messy divorce.

The only line of attack I have a problem with is the daughters pregnancy.  Not only is it really not any of our business, especially as people who believe in the freedom to controls one's own body, but it is really not germane to this election in any way.  In addition, since when is someones job fitness determined by their child's sex life?  This line of attack is insulting and unfair to both the daughter, who I'm sure is having enough trouble with this without being dragged into the public eye, and the mother.  It is not something anyone of integrity should be using as a weapon in a political campaign.

The best part about this is that, despite some initial ambivalence,
this was nothing but good for Obama.  Not only did they pick a weak
candidate, they did it immediately after the big night, thus taking
away the three or four news cycles the punditry would have spent
parsing and spinning to try and weaken Obama's position.  All people
will remember is the brilliance and Hollywood perfection of the show.
They will remember 80,000 people cheering and the picture of two great
American families under the fireworks and confetti.  They will remember
the humility of the speech; how it was 'you' and not 'me'; how he spoke
of strength through intelligence and serious and sober judgment rather
than rash aggression as the hallmark of our nations political
discourse.  They might not remember any of the 29 policies he outlined,
though all are and have been available on Obama's website for many
months.  Truth be told he did not really get into detail that way I
like, a la Bill Clinton, it was still more policy-heavy than his stump.

To me, and many others from both sides, his speech was pitch
perfect.  He was strong and fatherly, but without being condescending
and overbearing.  If anyone had any legitimate questions about the
quality of his judgment, this should have put them to rest.  And as I
said before, experience only matters if it is relevant and you learn
from it.  Simply having shown up does not really count in terms of
quality, and fortunately for us seniority is not really a good measure
of judgment.  Robert Mugabe has been the President of Zimbabwe for
almost 30 years, and its only in the last few that he's gone batshit
crazy.   Dick Cheney has many years of experience in all types of
senior government positions, but since he chose the path of evil his
experience has only taught him that being a bigger bully is the
solution to life's problems.  So I think its clear that time in office
does not equal useful experience gained.  I hasten to add that any
experience McCain does have is as a Washington insider who sold out
after 20 years of relatively independent thought, and thus even if he
did learn some lessons, many are part of the problem and not the
solution.  On the other hand this speech, convention, and whole primary
process have been conducted in a way that is a demonstration of
excellent leadership, brilliant descision making, and an effective
managerial style. 

He also has done something...the main
thing...the single factor which has generated this movement behind
him.  He treated us like adults.  He has engaged our brains, our
hearts, and awakened our best intentions.  By talking to people
seriously and not belittling them for having different answers to
serious and challeging problems, he has snapped the American intellect
out of its long stupor and rengaged the national conversation, as
opposed to the national argument.  He treated us like adults, and we
all stand to reap the benefits.

In all of this craziness, Obama's
speech stands out like a bright shining star.  It was not just the
first time America nominated a black man to its highest office, but the
first time any wealthy nation which has a theoretical majority white
population has given a non-European a real shot at its leadership.  It
is a turning point in human history, in a way, because now we can begin
to look past someone's color as our judgment of their worth.  It was a
moment, both for America and the world, which showcases the best this
nation has to offer: the promise of the future, healing the wounds of
the past, and inpiring the most downtrodden among us to beleive they
can achieve, and maybe even make a difference.  This is the power of
the good side of this nation.  I hope we don't have to suffer for eight
more years before we get to see it in action again.  And if McCain's
amazing judgment is demonstrated by making incredible choices like
Sarah Palin, they might just hand it to us on a silver platter.